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Archive for the ‘Culture of Life’ Category

Heart stethPro-lifers across the nation have been reading our series of articles on the “Faces & Facts of Simon’s Law,” and are urging Kansas to protect children and empower parents by enacting this vital measure.

The state legislature returns to work Wednesday following a short recess. The Kansas Senate has already passed SB 437, Simon’s Law, by a notable bipartisan 37-3 vote last month. The bill will prevent minors from being denied life-sustaining treatment without parental permission and will require, upon request, disclosure of hospital policies on “futile care.”

Recently, four medical associations have published their strong support for Simon’s Law, see here. The following are some excerpts from their endorsements:

  • ACPEDSThe American College of Pediatricians informs that, “Once inconceivable, the practice of hospital staff placing a do not resuscitate (DNR) order on a child’s chart without the informed consent of the child’s parents or legal guardian is on the rise… increasingly predicated upon the ill-defined and subjective concept of ‘quality of life’ with one or more disabilities considered intolerable.”
  • AAPSThe Association of American Physicians & Surgeons writes, “care judged by some to be ‘futile’ is often life-saving, even if it does not restore full function… [When] there is a time when medical intervention provides no benefit, it is unethical and should be unlawful for a medical facility to determine that point unilaterally.”
  • NAPNThe National Association of Prolife Nurses asserts that parents have “a right to full disclosure and participation in the healthcare decisions of their disabled or severely ill children.”
  • The Kansas City (Kansas/Missouri) Guild of the Catholic Medical Association believes Simon’s Law “recognizes the right practice of medicine… the sacredness of life and the primary role Cath guildparents have in caring for a child. [F]acilities or practitioners cannot and should not determine that a patient’s life is no longer deserving of medical care.”

These medical group endorsements acknowledge that DNRs are very often being issued due to negative judgments about the kind of life the child will live—not upon a medical assessment of impending death. In shorthand, such judgments about ‘futility’ are qualitative, not physiological.

The families that submitted testimony for Simon’s Law recounted that too many medical personnel clearly viewed their child as a victim of disabilities, without a rewarding life–a view that the family vigorously disputed.

Neonatologist McCaffrey

Dr. McCaffrey

Neonatologist Martin McCaffrey regularly treats severely ill infants and counsels many families about Trisomy 18 and other related chromosomal conditions. He advises:

“ A medical team using its subjective prediction of future quality of life as criteria to make life and death decisions,and  forcing that determination is a tyrannical enforcement of prejudice towards children with disabilities.

The case which prompted Simon’s Law legislation is a prime example of such bias.

It is my sincere hope that Simon’s Law will pass. The only physicians and hospitals that would be impacted by this legislation are those employing unilateral [orders not to resuscitate].”

Knowledgeable medical groups and individuals agree that Simon’s Law is a necessary corrective measure.

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Krissy Krotzer

Krissy Krotzer

Simon’s Law insures that life-sustaining treatment (resuscitation, nutrition, medicine) will not be denied to minors without parental consent. This bill has already passed the Kansas Senate 37-3 and work on its passage in the House will continue when legislators return April 27.

The testimony for Simon’s Law in Kansas documented a consistent medical bias toward children with chromosomal disorders. Researchers and parents described how these children were denied scheduled surgeries after their genetic conditions were verified. Furthermore, they were denied treatment to save their lives after DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) orders were secretly placed on their medical charts.

The prevailing medical viewpoint on children with trisomy conditions is almost uniformly negative, essentially recommending provision of comfort care only. Kansas legislators learned that families of these children often had to fight for their child’s life both before birth, when being urged to abort, and after delivery, when physicians refused requested interventions.

Dr. Martin McCaffrey is a pro-life neonatologist with over 20 years in this arena. He supports Simon’s Law with this perspective: It is shocking that the neonatal community in the United States has reached a point where a significant number of providers feel it is justified to place a unilateral Do Not Resuscitate [or attempt resuscitation] order on a child’s chart, based on a neurologic prognosis which parents are perfectly willing to accept, but the medical team does not.”

Consider the stresses imposed by the medical community on the family of Kristina (Krissy) Krotzer. Her mother, Terre, writes:

“Our daughter Kristina was diagnosed prenatally with Trisomy 18. At the time they confirmed the diagnosis via amniocentesis they let us know that although we were at 22 weeks it would still be acceptable to “interrupt” the pregnancy, i.e., terminate, because the fetus was still smaller than a typical “20 week fetus” but we would need to decide quickly. We declined.

Later in our pregnancy we began preparing for our daughter’s birth. In our discussion with the doctors we were very clear that we would do whatever it took to get our daughter into this world alive. We didn’t know how much time we would get but it was important to us to give her life if at all possible.

The doctor refused to consider c-section as she said it was a non-viable pregnancy and even refused to monitor my daughter during labor because, and I quote, “I don’t want you to know if she dies or not.” 

This doctor was fired.

A new doctor agreed to the c-section if necessary. We scheduled a day to induce (at 39 weeks) so that this doctor would be guaranteed to be there as he was the only one we trusted to give our daughter a chance.

We were very clear that our birth plan was to get her into this world alive and from there decide –based on her actual overall health and medical needs– what to do each step of the way. Never could anyone have interpreted our desires to include a Do Not Resuscitate order.

Labor began and our baby’s heart rate dropped with each contraction. It was decided a C-section was necessary. Our daughter was born soon after. She presented with Apgar scores of 5 and 8 and needed only a small amount of “blow by” oxygen. We spent time together and she was taken to the intermediate care NICU for more evaluation and monitoring. She did fine, and we went home 5 days later with our tiny 3lb. 8oz. little girl.

Krissy 16th bday

Krissy’s 16th birthday

Today Krissy is 16 years old and a sophomore in high school. While she’s had a handful of medical issues, Kristina has done well.

Four years ago I was looking through the medical records from Kristina’s birth and found that– unbeknownst to us– the hospital had placed a DNR on Kristina prior to her birth.

This DNR was not our choice or decision and if I hadn’t looked back at the  records, we never would have known. To this day, every time Kristina is hospitalized we get challenged over the fact that we have her listed as a full  code.

We were once told by a physician, ‘you’ve had 10 good years with her, isn’t that enough?’

Krissy has a happy, healthy, full quality of life. When that changes, our decisions might change. But either way it should always be our choice.”

Terre Krotzer expresses the sentiment of many families who testified in support of Simon’s Law. Just imagine how you’d react to doctors who think your child has lived long enough. Imagine having to constantly fear that medical personnel might refuse to sustain the life of your child.

That’s the fear and apprehension that Simon’s Law will allay.

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Simon napping with his father, Scott Crosier

Scott Crosier napped with baby Simon

Recent posts have revealed the facts surrounding secretly placed “Do Not Resuscitate” (DNR) orders without parental notice or consent that resulted in the deaths of Simon Crosier and Megan Barnes. (see here and here)

Testimonies from both families, as well as detailed testimonies from other families and supportive physicians and researchers, were submitted to the Kansas Senate Public Health and Welfare committee urging enactment of ‘Simon’s Law.’ (see here)

By an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 37-3 on March 22, the Kansas Senate passed Simon’s Law to

  1. insure no DNR order can be issued to a minor without consent of parents/guardians, and
  2. require that a hospital/medical facility, upon patient request, disclose any ‘futility policies’ in place.

The House can take action on the bill when the Kansas legislature reconvenes April 27.

There was no opposition presented against Simon’s Law in committee. While not one medical group or facility testified at the Senate hearing, a stealth campaign to kill this bill is now being waged by lobbyists for various hospitals.

Their position is that Simon’s Law is unneeded (or even harmful!) and that reasoning was encapsulated in an unsigned March 29 editorial by the Topeka Capital Journal (TCJ), a prominent Kansas newspaper.

Neither proponents of the bill, nor Kansans for Life, were contacted by TCJ to explain the need for Simon’s Law within the current climate in which certain newborns, and children of other ages, are labeled “unworthy” of life-sustaining care.

BAD FACTS= BAD EDITORIAL
The TCJ editorial asserted that, currently, DNR “orders aren’t to be placed in a minor’s chart without full disclosure to the parent or guardian.” 

However– in fact– disclosure does NOT always occur, as the cases brought to the Senate Health committee illustrate. In these instances, later verified by researchers, children lost their lives and necessary medical services, because negative value judgments were made about the children with chromosomal abnormalities.

Furthermore, “disclosing” a DNR is just stating that a DNR is being imposed; it is not seeking permission.

The TCJ editorial tries to claim the high ground by asserting Simon’s Law could “inflict unnecessary suffering upon children.” And as the final kicker, the editorial scolds –in the identical manner pro-abortionists do– that legislators are “primarily untrained in the area of medicine” and “shouldn’t play God.”

Scott Crosier, the father of Simon Crosier, for whom the Simon’s Law legislation is named, rebutted the editorial in a letter published April 9. “Unfortunately, hospitals’ secretive futility policies DO give them the ability to place DNRs [on minors] without [parental] knowledge or consent despite the rhetoric presented.”

Simon’s dad painfully experienced what the TCJ editorial seems ignorant of: that denial of life-sustaining treatment is being applied based on value chromosome sloganjudgments, specifically by those “with medical training.”

FUTILITY JUDGMENT BASED ON OPINION
Mr. Crosier wrote, “For clarification, a futility policy allows a hospital and its physicians to make any decision regarding the treatment of a patient they deem to be futile without any input from the patient or family. Bottom line is, hospitals are making business decisions when the lives of our children are at stake. Our physician’s favorite statements when Simon was in the NICU were, ‘I don’t know,’ ‘Not for Simon,’ and ‘Incompatible with life.’  Cold harsh comments to hear regularly when you are pleading with them to do everything they can to help your son.”

Mr. Crosier fundamentally disagrees that legislators need any medical training to recognize the need for Simon’s Law:

If the hospitals are not going to be completely open and transparent concerning their policies, then we clearly need our government to step in and protect our rights as parents.”

TCJ did not include this last relevant paragraph from the letter they published from Simon’s dad: “The physicians and hospitals have government protections through many federal and state laws but for some reason Simon’s Law would be a burden for them to get written consent from a parent for a DNR? This makes NO SENSE! If you want to protect your child’s human rights and your parental rights, supporting ‘Simon’s Law’ really is a no-brainer.”

Anyone with even limited experience with being hospitalized knows that the facilities and doctors do indeed insist on signed permission, often multiple times in just one stay. The hospital lobbyists really have no credible excuse for not getting written parental permission, which is presumably why they never came to a public podium to testify about Simon’s Law.

Crosier’s unpublished paragraph completely undercuts the entire TCJ editorial. Is that why it was omitted?

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Megan Barnes, 1985-2004

Megan Barnes, 1985-2004

Simon’s Law, Kansas Senate Bill 437, would require parent permission before a minor is coded as a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) and would also require hospitals and other medical facilities, upon request, to disclose any existent “futility” policies. (See more here.)

This is the latest in a series from Kansans for Life that looks at the real lives affected when Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders are unilaterally issued by physicians. In the following, Ann and Frank Barnes share the details of how this practice ended the life of their precious daughter, Megan.

“Both our beloved daughter, Megan, and Simon Crosier– for whom the Simon’s Law legislation is named– were born with the same rare syndrome but Megan’s diagnosis was not immediately detected.  She was full term but small, with a ventricular septal defect and a minor lip defect.   Such signs alerted doctors of possible chromosomal problems, so a blood sample was sent for genetic testing.  We were, however, able to bring her home at a week old.

Megan was over two months old when we heard the words “Trisomy 18” and the heartbreaking news that these babies fail to thrive and her life would be brief– up to a year at most.  When questioned as to what would cause her death, the response was a vague, “these babies don’t do well.” Hospice was suggested, but accepting Hospice care would be accepting the diagnosis which our hearts were not ready to do.

She was our daughter and loved, perhaps even more so, because of those predictions.

The fear of Megan dying weighed heavily on our hearts until we stopped waiting for her to die and began finding ways to help her. But in 1985 there was a lack of information about survivors living with this syndrome. We felt alone and longed to meet another child like Megan.

Her geneticist gave us a newsletter from the Support Organization for Trisomy 18, 13 and Related Disorders (SOFT) when she was about 6 months old.  What a life changer! SOFT became both a life-line of information and a second family, with children like our daughter.  SOFT also has a compassionate medical advisor who has helped families for over three decades.  Because of the tremendous sense of worth given to each child at the annual SOFT conferences, we attended many, and still do.

I cannot tell you the number of times we said how glad we were to have Megan.  She gave us purpose, and taught us about patience, perseverance, resilience, unconditional love, and more.  She had a sweet disposition and, like any child, enjoyed attention and praise.  Though she could not talk, she definitely let us know her preferences.  All-time favorites were the Disney video, Beauty and the Beast, a Texas Instrument toy– replaced more than once, and her 17th birthday party.  She enjoyed music and movement and the activity of physical therapy sessions.

Megan was content and knew she was loved, and it was obvious that what she valued most was being with people, especially those who loved her.

On Christmas Day, at age nineteen, Megan was hospitalized for virus-caused dehydration, in a pediatric intensive care unit at a major teaching hospital.

She died four days later.

We were devastated.

Only after her death did we request her hospitalization records and learned the horrible truth that our wishes for life support intervention had been overruled by a verbal order from the “attending” physician to his staff.   Megan had been issued a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order without our knowledge or consent. 

Had there been a requirement for a parent signature on a life support order in that hospital, this would not have happened.

It added so much more pain to our grief to learn that our daughter died because we trusted the wrong physician.  Instead of providing needed intervention, he misled us about what was happening, allowed her condition to decline, and then said there was nothing that could be done.

MEGAN’S LAST GIFT
Our daughter’s end-of-life lesson is about the vulnerability of parents and their children when the child is hospitalized. Parent-physician trust requires transparency and respect.

We believe any physician (hospital, medical society or hospital association) opposed to the parental signature requirement on a life support order, as proposed in Simon’s Law, has something to hide; and in some cases wants to control the outcome due to personal views about a particular disability or illness.

Megan outlived the survival statistics we were given when she was an infant, and she is not the only one with Trisomy 18 or Trisomy 13 to have done this as a number of survivors are now young adults!  They have health issues, developmental challenges and a life-limiting disorder, but most importantly, they are living evidence that it is incorrect to claim these disorders are universally lethal.

Clearly, the risk of a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) code being imposed without parental knowledge or consent is increased for children like Megan and Simon. And this dire risk also applies for any child who suffers critical injury or illness.

We fully support Simon’s Law to help prevent this injustice from happening to another family.”

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Kansas parents that we hStop dnrave been conversing with about an important new bill, Simon’s Law, are absolutely stunned to discover that a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) or DNAR (Do Not Attempt Resuscitation) order can be placed in a child’s medical chart without the permission of any parent.

Simon’s Law is named for a case of this tragic deception which happened to the Crosier family five years ago. Simon, their three months old son with Trisomy 18, died due to a DNR order that was neither discussed with, nor permitted by, his parents. (Read more here and here.)

Simon’s death happened in St. Louis, but his dad is a Kansas native, with many extended family members who are Kansas residents.

While KFL was actively educating about Simon’s Law, new relevant scientific articles about this DNR/DNAR issue have been published. The article I will discuss here, published March 17 in BioEdge, reveals the shocking results of a survey of neonatologists— those pediatricians with special training in newborn intensive care. BioEdge writes:

“The authors of the article are sympathetic to the view that unilateral DNAR [DNR] orders are in certain circumstances ethically permissible. What’s more, they found that most American pediatricians agree with them.”

In essence, physicians entrusted to evaluate and treat infants in critical care situations willingly expressed their opinions that it is ethical for them to deny care “unilaterally” (without parental consultation and permission).

Granted, these survey results came from just one sixth of the 3,000 members of the American Society of Pediatrics Section of Perinatal Medicine who were sent surveys, but it surely is frightening.

Sheryl & Scott Crosier treasured their son, SImon

Sheryl and  Scott Crosier treasured their son Simon

  • 77% said it was ethically permissible to issue a unilateral DNAR order where doctors were treating an infant for whom survival was felt impossible;
  •  61% said it was ethically permissible when survival was felt ‘unlikely’;
  •  57% said a unilateral DNAR would be permissible if no curative treatment was available;
  • 25% said a unilateral DNAR order would be permissible based solely on neurological prognosis.

The many testimonies submitted to the Senate Health & Public Welfare Committee in support of Simon’s Law demonstrate that children have tragically died based on negative “quality of life” assessments by the medical community– particularly children with chromosomal disorders—even Down Syndrome.

Some physicians, in the context of highly expensive remedial treatment, believe they are responsible for “taking the matter in hand” and ending the life of a child– whom they consider a burden– but whom the parents see  as a gift.

Highly negative medical labeling–profiling– of both the unborn and newborns as “incompatible with life,” regularly occurs, in spite of evidence to the contrary from those with such conditions who survive for months, years and even decades.

On its face, a DNR/DNAR medical order for a minor that is issued without written permission indicates a desire to

  1. sidestep obtaining written parental consent, under the excuse of the emotional difficulty in discussing the matter; or
  2. avoid admitting that the physician/facility is committed to denial of life-sustaining treatment; or
  3. both.

Simon’s Law will protect lives threatened by medical discrimination and usurpation of parental rights by pediatric specialists claiming an “ethical” basis for denying life-sustaining care.

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Simon's Law hearing Sheryl Crosier

Sheryl Crosier, Simon’s Law

The Kansas legislature reconvened for the second half of the session and Kansans for Life testified in hearings for two pro-life bills.

On Thursday, the Senate Public Health & Welfare committee held a hearing on SB 437, Simon’s Law, a bill to insure that the issuance of any Do Not Resuscitate order (DNR) for a minor has parental consent.

Since baby Simon’s death five years ago due to unjustifiable denial of care, Sheryl Crosier, his mother, has been in touch with a myriad of other families whose

medically fragile children were harmed and/or denied medical resuscitation– due to negative “quality of life” value judgments from physicians and hospitals.

Simon’s Law, SB 437, was introduced by Sen. Jacob LaTurner (R-Pittsburg), who thanked Crosier for her commitment to the issue and her bravery in describing for the committee the events involved in her son’s death.

Sen LaTurner

Sen. Jacob LaTurner

Her testimony was indeed both shocking and gut-wrenching for those in the packed committee room: Sheryl and her husband discovered–after Simon’s demise– that life-sustaining care had been denied to him due to a secretly-placed DNR based on his status as an infant with Trisomy 18. (See details here and read more in her book: I am Not a Syndrome, My name is Simon.)

Crosier’s experience triggered the production of a 2014 film  called Labeled,” on the topic of the medical discrimination against children with Trisomy 18, Trisomy 13 and related chromosomal disorders. (See info on these conditions here.)

Kansans for Life is promoting Simon’s Law, on behalf of these families– as well as physicians and researchers– who want parents assured of “an environment that allows medical decisions to be made in an ethical and transparent way.”  (Read KFL testimony here, and numerous heart-breaking actual accounts submitted to the committee here.)

The committee will likely work on the bill next week.  Contact info is here for Senate Health committee members, so you can urge them to pass Simon’s Law, SB 437.

U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp

U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp

BILL THAT PLANNED PARENTHOOD HATES
On Wednesday, March 2, the Senate Ways & Means Committee heard testimony from Kansans for Life supporting SB 436. This measure would make permanent the way the state health department, KDHE, assigns grants using Title X federal funding.

First passed in 2007 as the Huelskamp-Kinzer amendment, SB 436 prioritizes that full-service public clinics and hospitals are first in line for Title X ‘reproductive-services’ money. Remaining money is secondarily prioritized to private, full-service clinics and hospitals.

The emphasis is on providing comprehensive health care for Kansans who qualify for Title X, and for strengthening ‘safety net’ health clinics.

The legislature annually passed the Huelskamp-Kinzer amendment only to have it vetoed by pro-abortion governors, until pro-life Gov. Sam Brownback took office in 2011.  It has been approved in the budget every year since.

Planned Parenthood of Kansas Mid-Missouri (PPKMM) sued the Title X prioritization because they cannot provide the comprehensive care now required. During litigation, however, PPKMM continued to receive over a million dollars when Kansas was forced by an activist court to continue contracting with them.

The Kansas Attorney Generals’ office strongly defended the measure in federal district court, and on appeal. Dr. Robert Moser, then-KDHE Secretary who was named in the lawsuit, justified the state’s position, stating,

“Title X was not intended to be an entitlement program for Planned Parenthood.”

Sen. Caryn Tyson

Sen. Caryn Tyson

The Title X prioritization of the Huelskamp-Kinzer amendment was finally upheld in a ruling from the federal Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in March 2014. After PPKMM’s loss, they dropped further appeals. Read more here.

With 26 Senate co-sponsors, Sen. Caryn Tyson (R-Parker) introduced SB 436, in which the Title X budget prioritization is put permanently into statute.

KFL testimony supporting SB 436 is here. Contact info is here for Senate Ways & Means committee members to encourage passage of SB 436.

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Gov. Brownback flanked by KFL's Mary Kay Culp and Archbishop Naumann

Gov. Sam Brownback, flanked by KFL’s Exec. Director, Mary Kay Culp, and KCK Archbishop Joseph Naumann

Neither the D.C. blizzard nor the legal disapproval of half of the Kansas state Court of Appeals stopped the Pro-life Religious Council from giving their award to Gov. Sam Brownback Friday for Kansas’ historic passage of The Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act.

The result of a rare 7-7 tie decision Friday by the Kansas Court of Appeals is that the appalling opinion of Shawnee District Judge Larry Hendricks’ is upheld–for now. Judge Hendricks ruled that barbaric dismemberment abortions cannot be outlawed because the 1859 Kansas Constitution contains a right to abortion.

The dismemberment ban is not voided, but it remains enjoined from going into effect while litigation continues. The ban will be vigorously defended by the legal team of Attorney General Derek Schmidt.

"shower curtain"sign by Kansas pro-life activist, Vonda Wiedmeyer

“shower curtain” sign held up in the audience by Kansas pro-life activist, Vonda Wiedmer

In his acceptance remarks, Gov. Brownback urged that Kansas’ strong bipartisan passage of this dismemberment ban be repeated across the nation and at the nation’s Capitol.

Fr. Frank Pavone, who hosted the award ceremony, observed that the Appeals Court ruling shows that, “the battle for the unborn child’s civil rights will go back and forth for now. We know, however, that the truth of that child’s humanity will ultimately triumph over the lies of the abortion industry.”

Among attendees at the PRC presentation were Mary Kay Culp, Executive Director of Kansans for Life, and Archbishop Joseph Naumann, head of the Catholic Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas. The Kansas Catholic conference had testified in support of the ban:

“The fact that this legislation is even necessary is an indictment of our society and even the very notion of human progress…[when] we in the here and now allow our children to be torn apart, piece by piece, limb by limb.”

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